Opinion
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Talent Is Often Innate

June 04, 2019 1 min read

To the Editor:

In a recent article, Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, is quoted as saying that “talent is distributed equally, but opportunity is not” (“The Battle Over Who Gets Into Elite Public Schools,” May 8, 2019).

The news story highlights the controversy over student admission to the nation’s elite high schools. That controversy is based on the false assumption that lack of opportunity alone is the culprit. But this perspective overlooks the role that innate ability plays in achievement. With Kahlenberg’s line of thinking, once opportunity’s inequity is corrected, equal outcomes will follow.

This is wishful thinking. Consider musical ability: Children can be given the same instrument lessons, receive the same support from their parents, and get the same diet and exercise, but their performances will not be equal because talent varies widely. In fact, some of the greatest musicians come from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Talent is largely innate, despite claims to the contrary.

The author previously wrote for the Walt Gardner’s Reality Check opinion blog on edweek.org and now blogs at theedhed.com.

Walt Gardner

Education Blogger

Los Angeles, Calif.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 05, 2019 edition of Education Week as Talent Is Often Innate

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